Study: Mobile Workers Undo Security Measures

IT departments go through all kinds of headaches to lock down
their computers, only to have their employees undermine everything
with foolish behavior out of the office. That’s the conclusion of a
new report by antivirus vendor Trend Micro.

The more mobile an end user is, the more likely he is to send
confidential information via instant messaging or Web mail, the
report found. These are points of weakness that even the most
locked down of laptops can’t block. They also engage in risky
online behavior such as visiting social networks or downloading
movies.

In the U.S., 58 percent of respondents with access to the
Internet outside the company network admitted to sending
confidential information by webmail, such as Google’s Gmail or
Yahoo Mail.

The risky business approach isn’t limited to the U.S., either.
Trend Micro found similar behavior in Europe and Japan, as well.
Respondents from Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. all admitted to
downloading files and movies and visiting social networks while on
the company network.

In Japan, desktop workers were worse; 60 percent admitted to
downloading executable files, compared with only 49 percent of
mobile end users.

Trend Micro found that mobile users are often more technically
savvy and better educated regarding security threats. For example,
61 percent of mobile end users in the U.S. are aware of Web threats
like phishing (
define
), compared to 49 percent of desktop computer users.

The study “indicates just how important those mediums [IM and
webmail] have become for business communication and that simply
blocking access to those communication channels is no longer a
feasible option for many corporations,” said Dmitri Alperovitch,
principal research scientist for Secure Computing, in a statement
to Internetnews.com.

He was a little bothered by the fact that even though mobile
users are more aware of Web threats than desktop users, they are
still more likely to download executable files while on a company
network. “This shows that security education is still lacking in
many countries and for as long as that is the case, security
technologies will remain the first and last line of defense,” he
said.

Natalie Lambert, senior analyst for client security at Forrester
Research, wasn’t surprised at the results. “I sat next to a guy on
an airplane today who was complaining that his IT department
prevents him from going to ‘smut’ sites. He was upset about it!”
she told internetnews.com.

On a more serious note, she added: “Unfortunately, we are not
seeing enough companies increasing the security protections on
their mobile users. There are still many companies that only deploy
AV to all machines. I spend much of my time talking to
organizations about the multi-layered protections they need on
their laptops, not just their network.”

Article courtesy of internetnews.com

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